Three Colorado police officers involved in a deadly confrontation with a 23-year-old Black man last year were moved to "non-enforcement" duties as Elijah McClain's arrest gains renewed scrutiny, officials said Friday.
The Aurora Police Department said the action was "done in an effort to protect those officers" who arrested McClain on Aug. 24 in a struggle that ended in his death.
"They are now working in a non-enforcement capacity," Det. Faith Goodrich said. "This can be in a variety of different assignments but is usually administrative in nature."
Officers Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt were moved to desk duty on June 13, and officer Randy Roedema was re-assigned on June 20, officials said.
McClain was pronounced dead on Aug. 27, three days after he was confronted by police officers who were answering a call about a suspicious person in the area.
Officers applied a chokehold during the confrontation, authorities have said.
The call to police was received at 10:32 p.m. on Aug. 24 reporting that a “suspicious person” was "walking on Billings Street near East Colfax Avenue, wearing a ski mask and waving his arms at the caller," officials said.
McClain often wore a ski mask when he felt cold, his family said, and it would have been in the mid- to high-60s that night, according to weather records.
"The male would not stop walking down the street from the officer," according to a police statement at the time. "The male resisted contact, a struggle ensued, and he was taken into custody."
The coroner for Adams and Broomfield counties found that McClain's death was due to "undetermined causes." But the coroner did not rule out whether the police chokehold, in addition to the sedative ketamine injected into McClain by paramedics, might have contributed to his death.
Protesters across the nation have been calling for action against systemic racism and police brutality since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.